Description of the Event
What happened, where and when?
On 25 November 2022, the Trinidad and Tobago Met Services issued Adverse Weather Alert #1 with effect from 26 to 27 November. In the morning of 26 November, Trinidad began experiencing rainfall which was concentrated in the northern and central parts of the island. Compounding weeks of constant rainfall have caused ground level saturation and many major watercourses were already filled. Several communities along the east-west corridor experienced street and flash flooding. In the afternoon of 26 November, the Caroni River began to burst its banks in some areas causing riverine flooding in Bamboo #2, Valsayn South, Real Spring Gardens, Kelly Village, Madras Road and El Carmen, St. Helena.
In the morning of 27 November, a considerable amount of rainfall was registered in the country which resulted in a significant increase of water levels in the aforementioned communities. Consequently, on the same day, an Adverse Weather and Riverine Flood orange level alert was issued and the Ministry of Education issued a notice that all schools in Trinidad were to remain closed on the next day.
As a result of the large amount of rainfall, five major watercourses were flagged for concern including the Caroni River, North Oropouche River, South Oropouche River, the Caparo River and the Ortoire River. Additionally, several roadways were damaged due to undermining. Consequently, the Trinidad and Tobago Red Cross Society (TTRCS) began to monitor the high-risk communities and determining next steps. Three shelters have been opened, and an emergency Cabinet Meeting was also called to plan a state-wide response.
Scope and Scale
As of 29 November, official government reports, through the Ministry of Rural Development and Local Government, indicated over 30 flood incidents, over 51 landslides and 4 reports of damage structures across 12 administrative districts. While the adverse weather alerts were discontinued in the afternoon of 29 November, the Riverine Flooding Alert remained effective at Orange Level (High Risk) and extended until noon on 30 November.
Approximately 100,000 people affected remain under threat and at risk from further rainfall events. This DREF operation focus only on 500 families (2,500 individuals) to be targeted from assessments and coordinated response with ODPM.
Food, water, hygiene kits, cleaning supplies, PPEs, power washers, and other health and sanitation materials are the main items needed for the affected population. In addition, further damage and needs assessments (DANA) will be conducted to ensure the most appropriate provision of support to the affected population. Multi-Purpose Cash will be utilized as a modality for provision of support to ensure dignity, freedom of choice and facilitate basic needs and other livelihood recovery based on needs identified.
Flood levels, intensity and extent have been unprecedented. The last major flooding event in 2018 was less impactful as flood waters receded quickly and clean-up efforts were swift. This flooding event has been prolonged with communities being submerged for days. While much of the national infrastructure is intact, several rural communities are experiencing destruction of their road networks. In the Mayaro/Rio Claro Regional Corporation, approximately 1/4 mile of roadway has experienced cracks and a section has completely washed away as a result of the vast amount of water draining toward the sea and using any pathway possible. Several roads close to river-crossings are also experiencing the effects of undermining as the water penetrates the sub-surface and erodes the foundation of the roadway causing it to cave in. At least three rural communities are now isolated as a result of the rising water and damaged roadways, these include Mayaro, Gran Couva and parts of Biche.
As the country slowly recovers from the economic effects of the COVID19 pandemic, many of the communities affected represent a moderate percentage of vulnerable people who are struggling to cope with the effects of these floods and their ability to meet their families’ basic needs. One of the greatest challenges are for families who count on daily work for their subsistence. As the floods affect the income-earner to access work these families will be more negatively impacted. According to initial assessment by the TTRCS, families that count solely on agriculture for their livelihoods is in the minority. However, agriculture and livestock raring has become a major co-contributor to families’ ability to meet their essential needs and this flood has surely decimated many of these household level enterprises. In the Bamboo#2 community, the National Society team witnessed several livestock animals such as chickens and ducks being moved to higher ground by improvised floats. In the Kelly Village and St. Helena area, the same was observed for cattle and goats which were secured in safe spaces near the main roads, as their grazing fields were completely inundated.
The TTRCS initially estimates that 100,000 people have been affected with 15,000 in need of support which represents approximately 5,100 households in five key municipalities:
Tunapuna/Piarco Regional Corporation – Total: 2,700 households
El Carmen, St. Helena, Madras Road – 1,200 households
Kelly Village – 300 households
Caroni – 200 households
Real Spring, Valsayn South – 200 households
Bamboo #2 and #3 – 800 households
San Juan/Laventille Regional Corporation – Total: 200 households
Sangre Grande Regional Corporation – Total: 1,000 households
Mayaro/Rio Claro Regional Corporation – Total: 500 households
Penal/Debe Regional Corporation – Total: 700 households
The most affected include the elderly who are mostly immobile and have been marooned in their homes. On 29 November, in the community of Bamboo #2 the TTRCS supported with the distribution of hot meals to families and during the exercise had to support with the evacuation of several families who had elderly and did not have the means to move them, but as the situation worsened had no alternative. Several elderly persons with chronic conditions were not able to take their medications as they did not have sufficient food. Children have been adversely impacted as well, since this is a critical time in the school year when end-of-term tests are scheduled. The Ministry of Education did close schools on 28 November, however schools restarted on the next day forcing many children to brave flood-stricken roadways to get to school. Many homes in these impacted areas were totally submerged where all internal contents were destroyed including school books and uniforms.
The area of Tunapuna Piarco also hosts a large migrant population who will be more significantly impacted as they do not have the necessary support systems or knowledge of accessing aid.
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